Important Christmas Lessons Already Forgotten

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Vol 36 Issue 01

Olympic Bronze Medalist To Appear In Flintstones On Ice

DETROIT–Kristin Hammond, figure-skating bronze medalist at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, will once again dazzle skating fans in Flintstones On Ice, playing at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena twice daily through Jan. 30. "When I started skating at age five, I knew I wanted to be in the spotlight," said Hammond, who will play the role of Bedrock resident Betty Rubble in the ice-based production of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon. "After so many years of hard work, in a way, my dreams came more or less true, I guess." Following the touring show's 20-city run, Hammond is slated to appear in an advertisement for a heating-and-cooling repair service in her hometown of Edina, MN.

Bathroom-Disinfectant Ad Reinforces Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

WENATCHEE, WA–A TV commercial for Lysol Bathroom Disinfectant Spray sent OCD sufferer Janine Whittaker plunging even deeper into the disorder Monday. "Germs... germs everywhere," said Whittaker, furiously scrubbing her bathroom's new, already-gleaming shower tile with an industrial-strength ammonia-based cleanser after viewing the Lysol ad. "That commercial is right: Invisible germs and mildew lurk everywhere–in the tub, on the toilet, on the countertops, and in those hard-to-reach spots under the sink." Whittaker was hospitalized in March 1999 after watching a 30-second spot for Palmolive Anti-Bacterial Dishwashing Liquid.

Goddamn Ficus Plant Should Come With Instructions

ALBUQUERQUE, NM–According to area resident Howard Braddock, 44, the goddamn ficus plant in the sun room ought to come with some basic fucking instructions as to what to give it and when. "I'm either overwatering it or underwatering it," said Braddock of the dying plant. "But unless I get myself either an owner's manual or a Ph.D in botany, I may as well just flip a friggin' coin." Braddock further noted that whatever the hell's wrong, three leaves fall off every time he even so much as breathes on the damn thing.

AOL Acquires Time-Warner In Largest-Ever Expenditure Of Pretend Internet Money

DULLES, VA–In the largest merger of imaginary assets in corporate history, Internet giant America Online last week acquired media megacorp Time-Warner for an unprecedented $161 billion in pretend money. "This merger will revolutionize the way invisible amounts of non-existent cash are transferred," said Steve Case of AOL, a company whose actual revenues are a tiny fraction of its make-believe valuation. In an effort to keep pace with AOL, website blairwitchproject.com is expected to acquire General Motors sometime later this week.

Off His Rocker?

In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker called a Latin-American teammate "a fat monkey," insulted Asians and single mothers, and said he would never play for a New York team because he didn't want to ride a subway "next to some queer with AIDS." As a result, baseball commissioner Bud Selig ordered Rocker to undergo psychological testing. What do you think?
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Important Christmas Lessons Already Forgotten

HARTFORD, CT–As the nation moves on from last month's family gatherings, churchgoing, and goodwill toward men, the annual post-Christmas readjustment process is proceeding on schedule, with millions of Americans forgoing their temporary generosity of spirit and resuming their petty, miserable treatment of one another.

Though the joy and glad tidings of the holiday season are mere weeks behind us, sources report that more than 85 percent of 1999's Christmastime lessons have already been forgotten, with that number expected to reach 98 percent by as early as next week.

"Christmas is a magical time of year when people of all ages and backgrounds put aside their differences and are reminded of the things that truly count: the joy of giving, the gleam in a young child's eye, and the sound of voices raised together in song," said James Samuelson of the Hartford-based Institute For American Cultural Mores & Values, which tracks the rise and fall of human love and kindness throughout the year. "Mid-January to early February, by contrast, is a magical time of year when people forget all about that stuff. This leads to mid- to late February, a magical time of year when people everywhere feel overpowering, soul-crushing emotional pain, causing them to hate their coworkers, their loved ones, and themselves."

Evidence of this phenomenon can be seen across the country, with Christmas miracles of universal benevolence and spiritual uplift degenerating into mid-January miracles of everyday banality and neglect. Corporations that donated generously to the homeless and various charities mere weeks ago have resumed their usual cutthroat, profit-driven practices. Children who learned the important lesson that it is better to give than receive are refusing to share their expensive new toys with less fortunate playmates, gloating over their possessions and berating the other children for being poor. And the many career-focused dads who made a major breakthrough during the holiday season, vowing to spend quality time with their wives and children, are systematically unlearning these realizations of what truly matters and returning to their dysfunctional workaholic patterns.

"I hadn't seen my ailing grandmother, who just turned 91 and lives all alone out in Arizona, in over three years," said Boston investment banker Carl Thompson on Dec. 27. "But then, the wife and I, along with several other members of our church, went caroling at the homes of various elderly shut-ins as part of our holiday outreach program. As I looked into the eyes of those poor souls, so happy to have visitors on this blustery winter evening, I learned a valuable lesson about life, about family, and about myself. It was hard to book a flight out to Phoenix at the last minute, but just when it looked like there were no seats left, a reservation was canceled, and I made it out there to visit Grandma in time for Christmas Eve. It was a Christmas miracle. I know that God wanted me to be on that plane."

When asked about his grandmother again Tuesday, Thompson said, "That old bag? Christ, she didn't call again, did she? Does she think the world revolves around her and her stupid heart-medication stories she drones on and on about all day and night? Jesus, I'm a busy man here."

A Christmas tree, symbol of "the most special time of the year," lies discarded in a Norfolk, VA, alley.

Janice Frye, 34, a Los Angeles single mother, related a similarly moving story on Dec. 29.

"My 6-year-old son Brandon is a real handful, suffering from hyperactivity and a whole host of emotional problems. Sometimes the stress of taking care of him all by myself is just too much. But then, when I think of the little baby Jesus lying in the manger, I realize how special and wonderful Brandon really is. On Christmas Eve, when he gave me a drawing he made that said, 'I Love Mommy,' I knew he is the one true light of my life."

Less than two weeks later, the screaming and dish-throwing that typifies Frye's emotionally abusive relationship with her child had resumed. Neighbors reported overhearing Frye yell, "I should have had you aborted," and the child's antisocial behavior and poor performance in school have worsened.

Such forgetting-the-Christmas-spirit stories are not uncommon. According to Samuelson, the process is not only normal, but essential to preserving the special feeling associated with the holiday.

"The positive, soul-enriching sentiments associated with the holiday season are shared by almost all Americans, regardless of religious beliefs or cultural backgrounds," Samuelson said. "But it is only through our regular mean-spirited shallowness the rest of the year that the spirit of Christmas can, by contrast, move us so deeply, deluding the populace into thinking their lives are actually beautiful. If everybody behaved so kindly to one another all year round, Christmas wouldn't seem special at all. And then, the magic of Christmas would be lost forever, swallowed up by a year-round sense of basic human decency that would rob the holidays of their warm glow, ruining Christmas for all the little children of the world."

"If you think about it, the eleven and a half months of cruelty, selfishness, and disrespect exhibited by nearly all of humanity may, in fact, be the most precious gift of all," he added, wiping a tear from his eye. "It is this non-holy miracle of man's non-holiday inhumanity to man that is the true meaning of Christmas."

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